Fri, 20 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- When Sister Kathleen Schipani found out she was usually the very first person to teach deaf children to pray, she decided there had to be an app to fix that. Learning to pray usually happens in the family, when a parent or relative recites the words for grace before meals, asks for blessings or requests guidance or protection, the Sister of the Immaculate Heart of Mary told Catholic News Service in Rome. But when a child is born deaf into a hearing family, those kids shouldn't have to miss out on learning Catholic prayers or religious terms as they learn American Sign Language, she said Oct. 20. Sister Schipani, who is director of the office for persons with disabilities and the deaf apostolate at the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, was in Rome as part of a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for Promoting New Evangelization. The gathering Oct. 20-22 was dedicated to sharing best practices in engaging and catechizing persons living with disabilities. Lots of apps exist for learning ASL, she said, but there is nothing dedicated to religious terms, daily devotions or prayers of blessing, love, thanks and praise. The app meant to fill that gap is called, "Religious Signs for Families," and was to be available from the iTunes App Store and Google Play in early November. "The locus of learning your faith starts in the family, so this app is really to provide families with the ability" to foster prayer in the home and bond with each other and with God as they pray in ASL, she said. It also will help teachers who want to teach elementary school students how to pray using sign language. "Deaf people have deep experiences of prayer," she said, particularly because it involves praying with "their whole body" with signing and visualization. "Deaf people have never heard the language that we speak so they are not hearing the little voice in their head like we are," she said. Instead some people say they pray visually with beautiful imagery or with seeing hands signing in their head. While sacred music does not have the same ability to draw deaf individuals to prayer, sacred or beautiful art does, she said. "A lot of deaf people have not been catechized because there was no one to sign to them, and that really is what the sad thing is -- when there is no opportunity for deaf people to know religious language and have an experience of someone teaching them," she said. Sister Schipani said the beautiful thing about sign language is the signs are often "iconic," reflecting what the thing is and, therefore, they can convey the theology behind the concept. For example, she said, the sign for "heaven" in the Jewish faith is moving both hands in a way that suggests a semi-circular dome -- the heavens -- overhead. In the Christian faith, she said, the sign conveys the canopy of heaven, but with the other hand going through and up, "because we believe that Jesus, our savior, has come and we're saved so we can have the possibility of entering heaven." - - - The app has captions and voiceover in English and Spanish. More information can be found at http://deafcatholicphilly.org/religious-sign-app/ .
Wed, 18 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis prayed for the victims of a terrorist attack in Mogadishu, Somalia, that left hundreds dead and countless wounded in one of the deadliest attacks in the country's history. Before concluding his weekly general audience Oct. 18, the pope expressed his sorrow and denounced the "massacre which caused more than 300 deaths, including several children." "This terrorist act deserves the fiercest condemnation, especially because it victimizes people that are already so tried," the pope said. Mogadishu erupted into chaos Oct. 14 when a minivan and a truck carrying military grade explosives exploded near a security checkpoint. Investigators believe the attackers were targeting a heavily guarded compound that housed many embassies, United Nations' offices and African Union peacekeeping forces. The second explosion caused a nearby fuel truck to ignite, causing a massive fireball to erupt in the area. While no group has taken responsibility for the attack, government officials believe the militant terrorist group, al-Shabab, is responsible, the Associated Press reported. Pope Francis prayed for the innocent victims and their families as well as for the conversion of the perpetrators of the deadly massacre. "I pray for the conversion of the violent and encourage those who, with great difficulty, work for peace in that martyred land," the pope said.
Mon, 16 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Addressing the challenges of evangelization in one of the world's most remote areas and the connection between faith and environmental concern, Pope Francis announced a special gathering of the Synod of Bishops to focus on the Amazon region. "Accepting the wish of several episcopal conferences of Latin America as well as the voice of pastors and faithful from other parts of the world, I have decided to convene a special assembly of the Synod of Bishops for the Pan-Amazonian region, which will take place in Rome in October 2019," Pope Francis announced Oct. 15. Speaking at the end of a Mass in St. Peter's Square, the pope said the synod would seek to identify new paths of evangelization, especially for indigenous people who are "often forgotten and left without the prospect of a peaceful future, including because of the crisis of the Amazon forest," which plays a vital role in the environmental health of the entire planet. The Amazon rainforest includes territory belonging to nine countries in South America and has experienced significant deforestation, negatively impacting the indigenous populations in the area and leading to a loss of biodiversity. The pope prayed that the synod would highlight the beauty of creation so that "all the people of the earth may praise God, the Lord of the universe, and, enlightened by him, may walk along paths of justice and peace." The pope had spoken about a possible synod with a variety of bishops from South America, who have been making their "ad limina" visits to Rome this year. The groups included the bishops of Peru; about 60 percent of the country is in the Amazon. In an interview published May 16 in L'Osservatore Romano, the Vatican newspaper, Archbishop Salvador Pineiro Garcia-Calderon of Ayacucho, president of the Peruvian bishops' conference, said one of the primary challenges of evangelization in the Amazon is the difficulty in physically reaching the native populations. For example, he said, although they are in the same church province, one bishop is five hours away and another is 17 hours away. "It's easier to meet in Rome," he told L'Osservatore Romano. "It isn't an easy area and the pope is very concerned." The church, he said, has been the only voice speaking out in defense of the indigenous people of the Amazon. In the early 1900s, St. Pius X strongly denounced the mistreatment of the native population in the rubber plantations of Peru, Archbishop Pineiro said. A synod, he said, would expand that message and strengthen current efforts to evangelize. "It is difficult to evangelize the native population," Archbishop Piniero said. "Recently, the seeds have begun to be sown. Some of my brother bishops who are in that area have learned to speak the native language in order to draw closer to the population."
Mon, 16 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Like the Catholic Church's newest saints, Christians are called to live their faith as a love story with God who wants a relationship that is "more than that of devoted subjects with their king," Pope Francis said. Without a loving relationship with God, Christian life can become empty and "an impossible ethic, a collection of rules and laws to obey for no good reason," the pope said during Mass Oct. 15 in St. Peter's Square. "This is the danger: a Christian life that becomes routine, content with 'normality,' without drive or enthusiasm, and with a short memory," he said during the Mass. At the beginning of the Mass, Pope Francis proclaimed 35 new saints, including: the "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, a group of 30 priests, laymen, women and children who were killed in 1645 during a wave of anti-Catholic persecution; and the "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala," three children who were among Mexico's first native converts and were killed for refusing to renounce the faith. Tapestries hung from the facade of St. Peter's Basilica bearing images of the martyrs as well as pictures of Sts. Angelo da Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest known for his defense of the poor, and Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest who started an advanced school for girls at a time when such education was limited almost exclusively to boys. An estimated 35,000 pilgrims -- many of them from the new saints' countries of origin -- attended the Mass, the Vatican said Oct. 15. In his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the day's Gospel reading from St. Matthew in which Jesus recounts the parable of the wedding feast. Noting Jesus' emphasis on the wedding guests, the pope said that God "wants us, he goes out to seek us and he invites us" to celebrate with him. "For him, it is not enough that we should do our duty and obey his laws," Pope Francis said. "He desires a true communion of life with us, a relationship based on dialogue, trust and forgiveness." However, he continued, Jesus also warns that "the invitation can be refused" as it was by those who "made light" of the invitation or were too caught up in their own affairs to consider attending the banquet. "This is how love grows cold, not out of malice but out of preference for what is our own: our security, our self-affirmation, our comfort," the pope said. Despite constant rejection and indifference, God does not cancel the wedding feast but continues to invite Christians to overcome "the whims of our peevish and lazy selves" and to imitate the church's new saints who, he said, not only said yes to God's invitation, but wore "the wedding garment" of God's love. "The saints who were canonized today, and especially the many martyrs, point the way," Pope Francis said. "The robe they wore daily was the love of Jesus, that 'mad' love that loved us to the end and offered his forgiveness and his robe to those who crucified him."
Mon, 16 Oct 2017
Fifteen years ago, on Oct. 16, 2002, Pope St. John Paul II released his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (“The Rosary of the Virgin Mary”), which introduced to the Church a new set of mysteries for the Rosary to complement the traditional 15. In addition to the Joyful, Sorrowful and Glorious Mysteries, John Paul II recommended to the faithful the Luminous Mysteries, which he said brought out fully “the Christological depth of the Rosary” by including “the mysteries of Christ’s public ministry between his baptism and his passion” (No. 19). The pope said in the letter that he had no intention to curtail “the freedom of individuals and communities” to pray the Rosary as they preferred. His aim was to help the Church rediscover the beauty and power of the Rosary, which he hoped would lead to a greater practice of prayer, a closer walk with Christ and, thereby, a more lasting peace in the world, beginning within the family and spreading to society at large (see Nos. 40-41). Inspiration for the world Sadly, there seems to be little to no evidence that John Paul II’s hope for a transformed world through the fruit of praying the Rosary has been realized. Presently the world has experienced a disturbing antagonism between the United States and North Korea, the heartless displacement of millions of people from their homelands, and yet another senseless act of murderous violence, this time in Las Vegas. The notion of family, moreover, is in danger of becoming a mere category for census data, a convenient way to group people rather than denoting a loving communion among mother, father, children and other relatives. In Rosarium Virginis Mariae , John Paul II laments the disintegration of the family and the “fresh scenes of bloodshed and violence” that the world witnessed at the start of the new millennium, beginning with 9/11 (No. 6). He urged people to use the Rosary as a tool to counteract such inhumanity. When prayed well, he said, the Rosary not only disposes people to the plan of God — which is nothing less than the salvation of the world that brings to fulfillment the peace and love won by Christ — but also prepares people to actively participate in God’s plan by practicing charity and being peacemakers here and now (see No. 40). The pope ends his apostolic letter with a heartfelt supplication: “May this appeal of mine not go unheard!” (No. 43). The old saying, “Better late than never,” surely applies here. Yet, one may ask how exactly does praying the Rosary enable one to share with others God’s gifts of salvific love and peace? Certainly not merely by reciting the prayers and mysteries, as if it were some kind of magical formula. The person who prays the Rosary will bear fruit insomuch as he or she assimilates and actualizes the Christian virtues that the Rosary puts forward. The Rosary assists people in this assimilation process by providing a model and a method for putting on the mind of Christ. A model The model is Mary, and the primary lesson she shares — not only for people who want to pray the Rosary, but also for everyone — is that transforming the world according to God’s plan begins by being docile to God’s word. Or to put it more bluntly: If you want to change the world, you first have to change yourself. Long before giving birth to Jesus, Mary was listening to and pondering God’s word. She then conformed her actions to what she had perceived through prayer. Mary sought God’s will and worked to align her will with his. A great danger to one’s life is to do the opposite: trying to manipulate God’s will to match one’s own. Hence the importance of listening to God first. The Luminous Mysteries ◗ The Baptism of Jesus in the Jordan (Mt 3:17 and parallels) ◗ The Wedding at Cana (Jn 2:1-12) ◗ The proclamation of the kingdom of God (Mk 1:15; 2:3-13) ◗ The Transfiguration (Lk 9:35 and parallels) ◗ The Institution of the Eucharist (Jn 13:1) As a faithful and practicing Jew, Mary was immersed in the Hebrew Scriptures. The ...
Fri, 13 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- The church's newest saints represent a diverse group of people who offer encouragement and hope to Christians today through their example, a Brazilian bishop said. Saints like the "Martyrs of Natal," Brazil, offer a "new opportunity, hope and a renewal of faith" that can bring peace to a world battered by injustice, war and violence, Archbishop Jaime Vieira Rocha of Natal told journalists Oct. 13 during a press briefing. "The grace of their canonization will certainly help create a society that is less vengeful, less violent, more fraternal," and encourage Catholics to stand up "for the dignity of the people," he said. Ornate tapestries depicting each of the soon-to-be canonized saints -- who hail from Brazil, Italy, Mexico and Spain -- draped the facade of St. Peter's Basilica as workers busily prepared the square for the Oct. 15 Mass to be presided over by Pope Francis. The "Martyrs of Natal" -- Blessed Andre de Soveral, a Jesuit priest; Blessed Ambrosio Francisco Ferro, a diocesan priest; Blessed Mateus Moreira, a layman; and 27 others -- were killed in 1645 in a wave of anti-Catholic persecution carried out by Dutch Calvinists in Natal, Brazil. Father Julio Cesar Souza Cavalcante, an expert on their cause, told journalists that the 30 Brazilian martyrs -- which included priests, laymen and laywomen, families, husbands, wives, children and youth -- are models for all Catholics, especially in Brazil today, who want to follow the pope's call for a "church on the move" that goes out and gives public witness to their faith. "Martyrdom is always this witness. And to give this witness of faith in a country that today is in an economic, security and health crisis, it is a witness that it is possible to go forward, it is possible to do more," Father Souza said. The "Child Martyrs of Tlaxcala," Mexico -- Blesseds Cristobal, Antonio and Juan -- will also be declared saints by Pope Francis at the Mass. The children, whose ages range from 12 to 13, were among the first native converts in Mexico and were killed between 1527 and 1529 for refusing to renounce the faith and return to their people's ancient traditions. Msgr. Jorge Ivan Gomez Gomez, vicar general of the diocese of Tlaxcala, Mexico, told Catholic News Service that despite their age, the young martyrs proved that "grace acts and that not everything relies on human effort." With a Synod of Bishops focusing on young people taking place in 2018, the child martyrs "are a motivation so that young men and women may be agents of the evangelization in their own families" and confront the idols of the modern world. "Young people are immersed in a series of idolatries, which they sometimes passively accept," Msgr. Gomez said. "The martyrs, at their age, had the capacity to confront idolatries that were common in so many places" at the time. The pope will also canonize Blessed Angelo of Acri, an Italian Capuchin priest who was born Luca Antonio Falcone. He died in 1739 and was beatified by Pope Leo XII in 1825. A famed preacher, Blessed Angelo proclaimed the good news of the Gospel "in a simple, concrete way and not just by saying words," Capuchin Brother Carlo Calloni, postulator of Blessed Angelo's cause, told CNS. He was also known for his defense of the poor and "knew how to raise his voice against the powerful of that time," Brother Calloni said. However, he added, Blessed Angelo combined his sharp wit and intelligence with mercy when it came to the confessional, often spending long hours listening to repentant men and women seeking forgiveness. Brother Calloni said the Capuchin priest's zeal for saving souls can serve as an example for the church's mission in reaching out to those who have become distant from their faith. "Blessed Angelo can be the model for those who seek a new way to bring the proclamation (of the Gospel) to the world and that it may be heard by the people," he said. Pope Francis will also canonize Blessed Faustino Miguez, a Spanish priest ...
Thu, 12 Oct 2017
The death penalty, no matter how it is carried out, "is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel," Pope Francis said. Marking the 25th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church at the Vatican Oct. 11, Pope Francis said the catechism's discussion of the death penalty, already formally amended by St. John Paul II, needs to be even more explicitly against capital punishment. Capital punishment, he said, "heavily wounds human dignity" and is an "inhuman measure." "It is, in itself, contrary to the Gospel, because a decision is voluntarily made to suppress a human life, which is always sacred in the eyes of the Creator and of whom, in the last analysis, only God can be the true judge and guarantor," the pope said. The death penalty, he said, not only extinguishes a human life, it extinguishes the possibility that the person, recognizing his or her errors, will request forgiveness and begin a new life. The church's position on the death penalty, he said, is one example of how church teaching is not static, but grows and deepens along with a growth in faith and in response to modern questions and concerns. In the past, when people did not see any other way for society to defend itself against serious crime and when "social maturity" was lacking, he said, people accepted the death penalty as "a logical consequence of the application of justice." In fact, he said, the church itself believed that, and the death penalty was a possible punishment in the Papal States. It was only in 1969 that Pope Paul VI formally banned the death penalty, even though it had not been imposed since 1870. "Let us take responsibility for the past and recognize" that use of the death penalty was "dictated by a mentality that was more legalistic than Christian," Pope Francis said. "Remaining neutral today when there is a new need to reaffirm personal dignity would make us even more guilty." The first edition of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, published by St. John Paul II in 1992, recognized "as well-founded the right and duty of legitimate public authority to punish malefactors by means of penalties commensurate with the gravity of the crime, not excluding, in cases of extreme gravity, the death penalty." At the same time, it said, "bloodless means" that could protect human life should be used when possible. But the language was formally changed in 1997 after St. John Paul II issued his pro-life encyclical, "Evangelium Vitae." Since then, the catechism has specified that the use of the death penalty is permissible only when the identity and responsibility of the condemned is certain and when capital punishment "is the only possible way of effectively defending human lives against the unjust aggressor." The development of church teaching, Pope Francis insisted, is not the same as contradicting or changing church teaching. "Tradition is a living reality and only a partial vision would lead to thinking of 'the deposit of faith' as something static." "The word of God," he said, "cannot be saved in mothballs as if it were an old blanket to protect against insects." The Christian faith, he said, always has insisted on the dignity of human life from the moment of conception to natural death. So, the church has a continuing obligation to speak out when it realizes something that was accepted in the past actually contradicts church teaching. "Therefore, it is necessary to reiterate that, no matter how serious the crime committed, the death penalty is inadmissible, because it attacks the inviolability and dignity of the person," Pope Francis said.
Wed, 11 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis' trip to Myanmar and Bangladesh will offer moments to recognize each nation's struggle for independence, underline interreligious respect and encourage the local minority Catholic communities. Pope Francis will visit Myanmar Nov. 27-30, just months after the Holy See announced it had established full diplomatic relations with the southeast Asian nation. He will meet with Aung San Suu Kyi, the country's de facto leader and 1991 Nobel Peace Prize winner. The visit also comes as serious questions have been raised about her government's treatment of the Rohingya people, who are Muslim. Pope Francis has appealed for their protection on several occasions, calling the Rohingya, "good people" who "are our brothers and sisters. They have been suffering for years. They have been tortured, killed, just because they want to keep their traditions and their Muslim faith." Another highlight on the trip -- the pope's 21st trip abroad in his five-year pontificate -- will be meeting with the high-ranking Buddhist monks at the capital's peace pagoda. According to the Vatican's latest statistics, Myanmar has about 659,000 Catholics out of a population of about 51 million. The pope will visit the capital of Bangladesh Nov. 30-Dec. 2; he will ordain new priests and visit a Missionaries of Charity center for assisting poor children. According to Vatican statistics, there are about 375,000 Catholics in Bangladesh, about 0.3 percent of the population. The vast majority of people in the country are Muslims. Here is the detailed schedule released by the Vatican. Times are local, with Eastern Standard Time in parentheses: Sunday, Nov. 26 (Rome) -- 9:40 p.m. (3:40 p.m.) Departure from Rome's Fiumicino airport. Monday, Nov. 27 (Yangon) -- 1:30 p.m. (2 a.m.) Arrival at Yangon International Airport. Tuesday, Nov. 28 (Yangon, Naypyitaw, Yangon) -- 2 p.m. (2:30 a.m.) Departure by plane for Naypyitaw. -- 3:10 p.m. (3:40 a.m.) Arrival at Naypyitaw airport. -- 3:50 p.m. (4:20 a.m.) Welcoming ceremony at the presidential palace. -- 4 p.m. (4:30 a.m.) Courtesy visit to Htin Kyaw, president of the republic, at the presidential palace. -- 4:30 p.m. (5 a.m.) Meeting with Aung San Suu Kyi, state counselor and foreign minister, the country's de-facto leader. -- 5:15 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the city's international convention center. Speech by pope. -- 6:20 p.m. (6:50 a.m.) Departure by plane for Yangon. -- 7:25 p.m. (7:55 a.m.) Arrival at Yangon airport, transfer to archbishop's residence. Wednesday, Nov. 29 (Yangon) -- 9:30 a.m. (10 p.m. Nov. 28) Mass at Kyaikkasan sports ground. Homily by pope. -- 4:15 p.m. (4:45 a.m.) Meeting with the Sangha supreme council of Buddhist monks at the Kaba Aye pagoda. Speech by pope. -- 5:15 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Meeting with the bishops of Myanmar at St. Mary's Cathedral. Speech by pope. Thursday, Nov. 30 (Yangon, Dhaka) -- 10:15 a.m. (10:45 p.m. Nov. 29) Mass with young people in St. Mary's Cathedral. Homily by pope. -- 12:45 p.m. (1:15 a.m.) Farewell ceremony at Yangon International Airport. -- 1:05 p.m. (1:35 a.m.) Departure by plane for Dhaka, Bangladesh. -- 3 p.m. (4 a.m.) Arrival at Dhaka's international airport. Welcoming ceremony. -- 4 p.m. (5 a.m.) Visit to national martyrs' memorial in town of Savar. -- 4:45 p.m. (5:45 a.m.) Pay homage to the late-Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, known as "father of the nation," at the Bangabandhu Memorial Museum. -- 5:30 p.m. (6:30 a.m.) Courtesy visit to President Abdul Hamid at the presidential palace. -- 6 p.m. (7 a.m.) Meeting with government authorities, members of civil society and the diplomatic corps in the presidential palace. Speech by pope. Friday, Dec. 1 (Dhaka) -- 10 a.m. (11 p.m. Nov. 30) Mass and ordination of priests in Suhrawardy Udyan park. Homily by pope. -- 3:20 p.m. (4:20 a.m.) Visit with the country's prime minister at the apostolic nunciature. -- 4 p.m. ...
Tue, 10 Oct 2017
UNITED NATIONS (CNS) -- Conditions in many parts of the world force women and girls to bear the burden of carrying out everyday chores for their families and communities, keeping many of them from getting even a basic education, the Vatican's U.N. nuncio said Oct. 6. Females are often the victims of sexual and other violence, which prevents them from improving life for themselves and their families, said Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the Vatican's permanent observer to the United Nations. Migrant women and girls are particularly vulnerable to these situations, he added. He addressed the issue of women's advancement during a session at the United Nations of the Third Committee, which focuses on social, humanitarian and cultural issues. "Young women in rural areas are disproportionately involved in unpaid domestic work and especially bear the greatest burden when access to clean water and sanitation is not readily available," Archbishop Auza said. "They are forced to spend considerable time and effort collecting water for the community, and in doing so, their access to basic education is often thwarted, not to mention that, in many isolated places, they are also exposed to risks of violence." Failure to achieve "that basic human right" of universal access to safe drinkable water "can undermine other human rights, as it is a prerequisite for their realization," he said. Pope Francis in his encyclical "Laudato Si'" points to "the abandonment and neglect … experienced by some rural populations which lack access to essential services," Archbishop Auza said, quoting the document. In many areas, the pope noted, "some workers are reduced to conditions of servitude, without rights or even the hope of a more dignified life." Women and girls often bear "the heaviest burden from these deprivations," the archbishop said. Regarding education, "significant progress has been made toward parity between boys and girls from families of relative wealth or decent economic standing," the archbishop said, but women and girls who live in poverty lack schooling, literacy skills and opportunities for adult education. Adolescent girls "are at the greatest risk of exclusion from education due to social and economic hardships," Archbishop Auza said. "Whenever young women and girls do not have access to education, they are hindered from becoming dignified agents of their own development." To change this reality, the "basic material needs of every school-age girl living in rural areas must be addressed," Archbishop Auza said. One initiative that has "proven efficient," he said, is providing school meals to reduce girls' absenteeism. Such efforts should be encouraged "to guarantee access to education to each and every girl," he added. A current partnership between local farmers, including women, and the World Food Program of the United Nations to provide "homegrown school meals" in 37 countries is "a hopeful example," Archbishop Auza said. The effort "attends to the needs of girls and boys, fosters education and increases market access for women, all at the same time," he said. Based in Rome, the World Food Program is the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger and promoting food security. It provides food aid to an average of 80 million people in 76 countries each year. Addressing the violence women and girls face, Archbishop Auza again quoted Pope Francis in saying that eliminating violence is impossible "until exclusion and inequality in society and between peoples are reversed." "Through poverty and exclusion, adolescent girls, especially those in rural areas, also experience heightened vulnerability to sexual exploitation, child marriage and other unacceptable forms of violence," the archbishop said. "The horrifying prevalence of violence against women, thus, remains a salient and sad example of the deep connection between economic exclusion and violence." Archbishop Auza also discussed the current global migration crisis and its ...
Fri, 06 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Acknowledging how often the Catholic Church failed to protect children from sexual abuse, Pope Francis pledged "to work strenuously and with foresight for the protection of minors and their dignity," including online. "As all of us know, in recent years the church has come to acknowledge her own failures in providing for the protection of children: Extremely grave facts have come to light, for which we have to accept our responsibility before God, before the victims and before public opinion," the pope said Oct. 6. Pope Francis welcomed to the Vatican participants from an international congress on protecting children in a digital world. Hosted by the Pontifical Gregorian University's Center for Child Protection in partnership with WePROTECT Global Alliance , the congress Oct. 3-6 was designed to get faith communities, police, software and social media industries, mass media, nonprofits and governments working together to better protect minors. At the beginning of the audience , Muireann O'Carroll , a 1 6-year-old from Ireland, summarized the congress conclusions "on behalf of all children." Participants appealed to governments, church leaders and tech companies to do everything possible to remove online images of children and young people being sexually abused, identify and help those children, and end cyberbullying and "sextortion," which is using sexual images to blackmail someone. They also asked people involved in health care to increase the training needed to know when a young patient is being abused and how to help them. Pope Francis told the group that as a result of the "painful experiences" of seeing some of its clergy abuse children, but also as a result of "the skills gained in the process of conversion and purification, the church today feels especially bound to work strenuously and with foresight for the protection of minors and their dignity, not only within her own ranks, but in society as a whole and throughout the world." The 80-year-old pope said that with the explosive growth of digital technology, "we are living in a new world that, when we were young, we could hardly have imagined." "If, on the one hand, we are filled with real wonder and admiration at the new and impressive horizons opening up before us," he said, on the other hand its quick and widespread development has created new problems. "We rightly wonder if we are capable of guiding the processes we ourselves have set in motion, whether they might be escaping our grasp, and whether we are doing enough to keep them in check," Pope Francis told the group. The "extremely troubling things on the net," he said, include "the spread of ever more extreme pornography, since habitual use raises the threshold of stimulation; the increasing phenomenon of sexting between young men and women who use social media; and the growth of online bullying, a true form of moral and physical attack on the dignity of other young people." In addition, he said, there is the phenomena of sextortion and the solicitation online of minors for sexual purposes, "to say nothing of the grave and appalling crimes of online trafficking in persons, prostitution and even the commissioning and live viewing of acts of rape and violence against minors in other parts of the world." "The net has its dark side -- the 'dark net' -- where evil finds ever new, effective and pervasive ways to act and to expand," the pope said. "The spread of printed pornography in the past was a relatively small phenomenon compared to the proliferation of pornography on the net." The problem is huge and global, the pope said, and no one should underestimate the harm children and young people face. "Neurobiology, psychology and psychiatry have brought to light the profound impact of violent and sexual images on the impressionable minds of children, the psychological problems that emerge as they grow older, the dependent behaviors and situations, and genuine enslavement that result from a ...
Thu, 05 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- While societies must find a way to overcome the subjugation of women, pretending there are no differences between men and women or even using technology to change a person's sex is not the answer, Pope Francis said. Using science "to radically eliminate any difference between the sexes, and, as a result, the covenant between man and woman, is not right," the pope said Oct. 5, opening the Pontifical Academy for Life's general assembly. "The biological and psychological manipulation of sexual difference, which biomedical technology now presents as a simple matter of personal choice -- which it is not -- risks eliminating the source of energy that nourishes the covenant between man and woman and makes it creative and fruitful," the pope said. Pope Francis offered several reflections for the academy's consideration of humanity's relationship with technology, particularly in a culture he described as egocentric and "obsessively centered on the sovereignty of man -- as a species and as individuals -- in relation to all of reality." "This approach is not harmless: It forms a person who is always looking at himself in the mirror, who can't look others, or the world, in the eye," the pope said. "This approach has negative consequences for all one's affections and relationships in life." Although real scientific and technological progress should "inspire more humane policies," the pope said that men, women and children today suffer "with bitterness and sorrow from the false promises of technocratic materialism." Relationships are essential, he said, noting that God entrusted "creation and history to the covenant between man and woman," which is seen especially in marriage and the transmission of new life. But the partnership between men and women goes beyond individual families, he said. "It is an invitation to become responsible for the world, in culture and politics, in the world of work and in the economy, and in the church as well." Meeting new challenges "is not simply about equal opportunity or mutual recognition," he said. "Man and woman are called on not only to speak about love, but to speak to each other, with love, about what they must do to ensure that our lives together can be lived in the light of God's love for every creature. "Speak to each other, ally with each other, because neither man nor woman can shoulder this responsibility without the other," he said. And, in a culture where some people consider the transmission of new life "a degradation of woman or a threat to societal well-being," he said, the church is called to affirm new life "as a gift." "Generating life gives us new life," he said, it "makes us richer." Compassion for children and the elderly is also crucial, the pope said, because there are "areas of the soul and of human sensitivity that demand to be heard and acknowledged, guarded and appreciated, by individuals and by the community." Pope Francis thanked the members of the Pontifical Academy for Life for their commitment to defending the "responsible accompaniment of human life from conception and throughout its years to its natural end" and engaging in dialogue with people and scholars with different views to "bring a more authentic wisdom about life to the attention of all peoples." "Open and fruitful dialogue can and must be established with the many who are seeking the true meaning of life," the pope said.
Thu, 05 Oct 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has invited Christian and non-Christian young people from around the world to a meeting in preparation for the Synod of Bishops on youth in 2018. Before concluding his weekly general audience, the pope said the March 19-24, 2018, pre-synod meeting will be an opportunity for the church to listen to the hopes and concerns of young men and women. "Through this journey, the church wants to listen to the voices, the sensibilities, the faith as well as the doubts and criticisms of young people. We must listen to young people," Pope Francis said Oct. 4. The theme chosen by the pope for the Synod of Bishops, which will be held in October 2018, is: "Young people, faith and vocational discernment." The general secretariat of the synod said the initiative "will allow young people to express their expectations and desires as well as their uncertainties and concerns in the complex affairs of today's world." Young people attending the meeting will represent bishops' conferences, the Eastern Catholic churches, men and women in consecrated life and seminarians preparing for the priesthood, the general secretariat said. The gathering also will include representatives from other Christian communities and other religions and experts in the fields of education, culture, sports and arts, who "are involved in helping young people discern their choices in life." "The pre-synod meeting will enrich the consultation phase, which began with the publication of the preparatory document and its questionnaire, along with the launch of an online website containing a specific questionnaire for young people," the synod office said in a statement. Conclusions drawn from the meeting, the general secretariat added, will be given to members of the Synod of Bishops "to encourage their reflection and in-depth study." Young people attending the meeting also will take part in the Palm Sunday Mass at the Vatican March 25, coinciding with local celebrations of World Youth Day.
Wed, 04 Oct 2017
The “filial correction” of Pope Francis, published by a group of several dozen clergy, scholars and writers Sept. 24, claims that the pope has failed to stop the spread of heresy in his teaching on marriage and family life, specifically when it comes to his rationale for Communion for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. The case for giving Communion to some of these Catholics recently was presented in an insider’s explanation of Pope Francis’ document on the family, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”). Leaving the charges of the “filial correction” aside, it nevertheless appears that this insider’s explanation, given by Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, rector of the Catholic University of Buenos Aires, rests on thinking at odds with Pope St. John Paul II’s writings on moral principles. John Paul’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor (“The Splendor of Truth”) was the first papal document to give a systematic account of the fundamental philosophical and theological principles underlying the Church’s moral teaching. It is viewed as a benchmark by Catholic moralists who accept the papal magisterium — the pope’s teaching authority — as a reliable guide. Amoris Laetitia , published in April 2016, is an apostolic exhortation, a category of papal documents carrying less authority than encyclicals. Its meaning has been debated since its release, with some saying and others denying that it gives guarded approval to Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics whose first marriages are considered still valid by the Church. Sacramental practice Up to now, such people have been ineligible to receive Communion unless they live with their second partners in a “brother and sister” relationship — that is, without having marital relations. Amoris Laetitia sets no such condition and appears to allow some who are in second unions to judge themselves worthy to receive after a process of self-examination carried out in consultation with a priest. The newly published explanation of the papal document is the work of Archbishop Fernandez, the archdiocese that Pope Francis headed before being elected pope. Archbishop Fernandez, a member of the pope’s inner circle of advisers, is said to have helped write Amoris Laetia . His article, which appeared in Medellin, a theological journal sponsored by the Latin American Bishops’ Conference (CELAM), is an analysis of Chapter 8 of Amoris Laetitia , which deals with theology. The disputed passage in the pope’s document is a relatively brief footnote accompanying the following text: “Because of conditioning and mitigating factors, it is possible that in an objective situation of sin — which may not be subjectively culpable, or fully such — a person can be living in God’s grace, can love and can also grow in the life of grace and charity, while receiving the Church’s help to this end.” Footnote 351 says of this: “In certain cases, this can include the help of the sacraments. Hence, ‘I want to remind priests that the confessional must not be a torture chamber, but rather an encounter with the Lord’s mercy. ... I would also point out that the Eucharist ‘is not a prize for the perfect, but a powerful medicine and nourishment for the weak.’” Pope Francis on 'Amoris' Pope Francis met with Jesuits and laypeople on Sept. 10, during his trip to Colombia, and asserted that his exhortation is rooted in the theology of St. Thomas Aquinas. La Civilta Cattolica in Rome published a transcript Sept. 28. “The theology of Jesus was the most real thing of all; it began with reality and rose up to the Father. ... Jesus wanted to make a deep theology and the great reality is the Lord. I like to repeat that to be a good theologian, together with study you have to be dedicated, awake and seize hold of reality; and you need to reflect on all of this on your knees.” One interpretation Archbishop Fernandez says the meaning of this is clear from a note sent by Pope Francis to the bishops of Buenos Aires, confirming that Amoris ...
Fri, 29 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Given the strong divisions sparked and fueled by "fake news," Pope Francis is highlighting the importance of truth in his message for World Communications Day. The message will call for studying the causes and consequences of baseless information and will promote "professional journalism," which always seeks the truth and therefore peace and understanding in the world, the Vatican Secretariat for Communication said, announcing the theme. "'The truth will set you free': Fake news and journalism for peace" will be the theme of the church's celebration of World Communications Day 2018. The day's theme is announced every year on Sept. 29, the feast of the archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael. The theme Pope Francis chose "relates to so-called 'fake news' -- namely baseless information that contributes to generating and nurturing a strong polarization of opinions," the announcement said. "It involves an often misleading distortion of facts, with possible repercussions at the level of individual and collective behavior." With so many key players in the world of social media, internet and politics beginning to face the phenomenon, it said, "the church, too, wishes to offer a contribution." The pope's message for the day will propose "a reflection on the causes, the logic and the consequences of disinformation in the media," and it will try to help "promote professional journalism, which always seeks the truth, and therefore a journalism of peace that promotes understanding between people." Most dioceses will celebrate World Communications Day 2018 on May 13, the Sunday before Pentecost. The Vatican will release the pope's message for the observance Jan. 24, the feast of St. Francis de Sales, patron of journalists.
Wed, 27 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Christ calls believers to welcome migrants and refugees "with arms wide open, ready to give a sincere, affectionate, enveloping embrace," Pope Francis said, launching the "Share the Journey" campaign of Catholic charities around the world. Christians' embrace of people fleeing war or poverty should be "a bit like the colonnade of St. Peter's Square, which represents the mother church who embraces all in sharing a common journey," the pope said at the end of his weekly general audience Sept. 27. With hundreds of refugees and migrants present in St. Peter's Square, Pope Francis said the Catholic charities' staff and volunteers who assist them are "a sign of a church that seeks to be open, inclusive and welcoming." "Share the Journey" is a two-year campaign sponsored by Caritas Internationalis, the global network of national Catholic charities -- including the U.S. Catholic Relief Services and Catholic Charities USA -- to promote encounters between people on the move and people living in the countries they are leaving, passing through or arriving in. Philippine Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle of Manila, president of Caritas Internationalis, told Catholic News Service, "'Share the Journey' is not just a title or a label for a program -- it is that, but more than that, it is a lifestyle," an affirmation that everyone wants and needs someone to share his or her journey through life. "There are specific moments in the life of a person, a family or the whole human family when we need to be reminded of this fundamental truth that we have been given each other so that we would have someone to share our journeys with," he said, the day before the campaign launched. "A small gesture like extending one's arm to somebody else -- it means a lot," he said. "I reach out and if a person feels alone and isolated, my reaching out is a gesture of solidarity. If I reach out and that person is wounded, it could be a sign of healing. If I reach out and the person is lost, it could mean an offer of guidance. If I reach out and person feels like nobody cares, then it will be a sign of welcome." In his ministry in the Philippines and traveling around the world for Caritas, Cardinal Tagle said he has come to realize that "we don't need to do great, extraordinary, extravagant things to make a difference in the lives of people." Rather, he said, "small gestures, ordinary gestures, when done with sincerity, with the light of human understanding, with the fire of love can do extraordinary things." The cardinal said it is important for himself and for all Christians to look not only at the gestures of care and love they extend to others, but to recognize how "I have been assured and encouraged by little gestures that people have extended to me with sincerity and love." Those gestures, he said, "wow, they make my day, they make my journeys more pleasant and bearable." One key point of the "Share the Journey" campaign, Cardinal Tagle said, is to help Catholics and others take positive steps to get to know the truth about the current refugee crisis and to actually meet a migrant or refugee in person. "Fear comes first from the unknown," he said. "Many people who are against migration or receiving migrants have not even met a real migrant or a real refugee, have not even touched the hand of someone forced to flee a war, have not even smelled the misery of these people. So we wonder, 'What are you afraid of? Where is this fear coming from?'" Cardinal Tagle said his hope is that when Catholics meet a migrant or refugee, they can say, "'She's a sister.' 'She could be my mother.' 'She could be my neighbor.'" Lasting impressions can come from the experience of meeting, talking to and sharing even a moment of the journey with a migrant or refugee, the cardinal said. For him, the refugee who stays in his mind, heart and prayers is "a teenager, a young boy who we encountered in the refugee camp in Idomeni, in Greece," in late 2015. He was from Syria ...
Mon, 25 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Several dozen priests, scholars and writers have published what they described as a "filial correction" of some of Pope Francis' teachings about marriage -- particularly about access to the sacraments for divorced and civilly remarried Catholics. The best-known name among the signatories is Bishop Bernard Fellay, superior general of the traditionalist Priestly Society of St. Pius X, a group still involved in talks with the Vatican aimed at regularizing its status within the Catholic Church. The letter originally was signed by 40 people and delivered to Pope Francis in August; the writers said they did not receive a response, so they released it publicly Sept. 24, launching a website as well: www.correctiofilialis.org. The Vatican press office had no comment about the letter. U.S. Cardinal Raymond L. Burke, former head of the Vatican's top court, and German Cardinal Walter Brandmuller, former president of the Pontifical Committee for Historical Sciences, did not sign the letter. Along with two other cardinals who are now deceased, they publicly released in September 2016 a critical set of questions, known as "dubia," that they had sent to Pope Francis about his teaching on the family. As recently as August, Cardinal Burke spoke in an interview about issuing a "formal correction" of Pope Francis if he refused to respond to the "dubia." The correction, he said, would be a declaration of church teaching, rather than a set of questions. The new letter accuses Pope Francis of "the propagation of heresies effected by the apostolic exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia' and by other words, deeds and omissions of Your Holiness." "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love") is the document Pope Francis released in 2016 reflecting on the discussions and conclusions of the meetings in 2014 and 2015 of the Synod of Bishops on the family. In the document, Pope Francis affirmed church teaching that the sacrament of marriage is the bond of one man and one woman united for life and open to having children. However, the document also encouraged parishes and priests to reach out to couples whose marriages have failed, reminding them that they have not been excommunicated. In "Amoris Laetitia," Pope Francis asked pastors: to accompany those who have remarried civilly; to check if their sacramental marriage was valid or if they could receive a decree of nullity; and to lead them in a process of discernment about their responsibility for the breakup and about their current situation in light of church teaching. The document seemed to open the possibility -- in certain cases and after the discernment process -- of allowing them to receive absolution and Communion even without promising to abstain from sexual relations with their new partner. The "filial correction" lists what its authors see as seven "false and heretical propositions" in "Amoris Laetitia," including: a belief that God's grace does not give a believer the strength to meet "the objective demands of divine law"; that divorced and civilly remarried persons "are not necessarily in a state of mortal sin"; that a person can break divine law and not be in a state of sin; that a person can decide in good conscience that sexual relations are morally permissible or even good with someone other than the person they married sacramentally; and that "our Lord Jesus Christ wills that the church abandon her perennial discipline of refusing the Eucharist to the divorced and remarried." The letter asked the pope to publicly reject the seven propositions.
Thu, 21 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Pope Francis has endorsed an approach of "zero tolerance" toward all members of the church guilty of sexually abusing minors or vulnerable adults. Having listened to abuse survivors and having made what he described as a mistake in approving a more lenient set of sanctions against an Italian priest abuser, the pope said he has decided whoever has been proven guilty of abuse has no right to an appeal, and he will never grant a papal pardon. "Why? Simply because the person who does this (sexually abuses minors) is sick. It is a sickness," he told his advisory commission on child protection during an audience at the Vatican Sept. 21. Members of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, including its president -- Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston -- were meeting in Rome Sept. 21-23 for their plenary assembly. Setting aside his prepared text, the pope said he wanted to speak more informally to the members, who include lay and religious experts in the fields of psychology, sociology, theology and law in relation to abuse and protection. The Catholic Church has been "late" in facing and, therefore, properly addressing the sin of sexual abuse by its members, the pope said, and the commission, which he established in 2014, has had to "swim against the tide" because of a lack of awareness or understanding of the seriousness of the problem. "When consciousness comes late, the means for resolving the problem comes late," he said. "I am aware of this difficulty. But it is the reality: We have arrived late." "Perhaps," he said, "the old practice of moving people" from one place to another and not fully facing the problem "lulled consciences to sleep." But, he said, "prophets in the church," including Cardinal O'Malley, have, with the help of God, come forward to shine light on the problem of abuse and to urge the church to face it. Typically when the church has had to deal with new or newly emerging problems, it has turned to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to address the issue, he said. And then, only when the problem has been dealt with adequately does the process for dealing with future cases get handed over to another dicastery, he added. Because the problem of cases and allegations of abuse are "grave" -- and because it also is grave that some have not adequately taken stock of the problem -- it is important the doctrinal congregation continue to handle the cases, rather than turning them over directly to Vatican tribunals, as some have suggested. However, he said, the doctrinal congregation will need more personnel to work on cases of abuse in order to expedite the "many cases that do not proceed" with the backlog. Pope Francis told commission members he wants to better balance the membership of the doctrinal team dealing with appeals filed by clergy accused of abuse. He said the majority of members are canon lawyers, and he would like to balance out their more legalistic approach with more members who are diocesan bishops and have had to deal with abuse in their diocese. He also said proof that an ordained minister has abused a minor "is sufficient (reason) to receive no recourse" for an appeal. "If there is proof. End of story," the pope said; the sentence "is definitive." And, he added, he has never and would never grant a papal pardon to a proven perpetrator. The reasoning has nothing to do with being mean-spirited, but because an abuser is sick and is suffering from "a sickness." The pope told the commission he has been learning "on the job" better ways to handle priests found guilty of abuse, and he recounted a decision he has now come to regret: that of agreeing to a more lenient sanction against an Italian priest, rather than laicizing him as the doctrinal team recommended. Two years later, the priest abused again, and Pope Francis said he has since learned "it's a terrible sickness" that requires a different approach.
Thu, 21 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Young people should love, believe and follow their dreams, never despairing because Jesus is always with them, Pope Francis said. When life hits hard, they should try to get up again, letting others help them, and if they are bored, they should concentrate on doing good things for others, the pope said Sept. 20 during his weekly general audience. Continuing his series of audience talks on Christian hope, the pope gave extensive advice on how to teach people, especially young people, to remain full of hope. No matter "where God has planted you, hope. Always hope," he said, explaining: -- Enemy No. 1 is not out there somewhere, but inside oneself. "Don't make room for bitter or dark thoughts." -- "Believe in the existence of the most noble and beautiful truths" and trust that God, through the Holy Spirit, is ushering everything toward the good, toward "Christ's embrace." -- Believers are not alone in their faith. There are others who hope, too. "The world goes on thanks to the vision of many people who created an opening, who built bridges, who dreamed and believed, even when they heard words of derision around them." -- Never believe the struggles here on earth are "useless." God never disappoints and he wants that seed he planted in everyone to bloom. "God made us to flower, too." -- "Wherever you are, build!" -- When life gets hard, and "you have fallen, get up. Never stay down. Get up and let people help you to your feet." -- "If you're sitting, start walking!" Start the journey. -- "If you're bored stiff, crush (boredom) with good works." -- "If you feel empty and demoralized, ask if the Holy Spirit may newly replenish" that void. -- Work for peace among people. -- Don't listen to those "who spread hatred and division." -- No matter how different people are from one another, human beings "were created to live together. With disputes, wait patiently. One day you will discover that a sliver of truth has been entrusted to everyone." -- Love people. Respect everyone's journey -- whether it be troubled or down the straight and narrow because everyone has a story behind them. -- Every baby born is "the promise of a life that once again shows it is stronger than death." -- "Jesus has given us a light that shines in the darkness; defend it, protect it. This unique light is the greatest richness entrusted to your life." -- Dream of a world still not seen, but will certainly come one day. Think of those who sailed oceans, scaled mountains, conquered slavery or made life better for people on earth. -- Be responsible: "Every injustice against someone poor is an open wound" and countless generations will come after you have lived. -- Ask God for courage every day. "Remember Jesus conquered fear for us" and "not even our most treacherous enemy can do anything against faith." -- If fear or evil looms so large it seems insurmountable, remember "that Jesus lives in you. And, through you, it is he, who, with his meekness, wants to subdue all enemies of humanity: sin, hatred, crime and violence." -- Be courageous in speaking the truth, but never forget, "you are not above anyone." Even if one feels certain that he or she is the last person on earth who holds to the truth, "do not spurn the company of human beings for this" reason. -- Hold onto ideals and live for something greater than yourself, even if it comes at a high price. -- "Nothing is more human than making mistakes and these mistakes must not become a prison for you." The son of God came "not for the healthy, but the sick" so people should not be afraid to get up again and start over when they fall, "because God is your friend." -- "If bitterness strikes, firmly believe in all those people who still work for the good; the seed of a new world is in their humility." -- Spend time with people who have kept a child-like heart. "Learn from splendor, nurture amazement." -- "Live, love, believe, and with God's grace, never despair."
Mon, 18 Sep 2017
VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Those who govern or are in positions of authority are called to be humble and serve the good of the people God entrusts to them rather than the interests of their party or themselves, Pope Francis said. Without prayer, a leader risks serving his own selfish desires or political party, closing himself or herself in a "circle from which there is no escape," the pope said Sept. 18 during morning Mass at Domus Sanctae Marthae. "Who has more power than a ruler? The people, who have given him the power, and God, from whom power comes through the people," the pope said. "When he has this awareness of being subordinate, he prays." In his homily, the pope reflected on the day's reading from St. Paul's First Letter to Timothy in which he asks that "supplications, prayers, petitions and thanksgivings be offered for everyone, for kings and for all in authority." The pope also spoke about the day's Gospel reading from St. Luke, which recounted Jesus' healing of a slave at the behest of his master, a Roman centurion. "This man felt the need for prayer" not because it was a last resort but because he knew that "there was someone above him, there is another who is in charge," the pope said. Praying for politicians and those who lead, the pope continued, is important "because it is the prayer for the common good of the people who are entrusted to him." Leaders also must pray and ask the Lord for wisdom so that they find their true strength in God and in the people and not "in small groups or in myself," he said. And leaders who claim they cannot pray because they are agnostic or atheist, he said, at least must examine their consciences and seek counsel from those their people consider wise. Christians "cannot leave rulers alone, we must accompany them with prayer," the pope said. And when a leader does "awful things," he added, they need even more prayers. "Pray, do penance for those who govern," the pope said. "The prayer of intercession -- it is beautiful what Paul says -- is for all leaders, for all those in power. Why? So 'that we may lead a quiet and tranquil life.' When a leader is free and can govern in peace, all people benefit from this."
Fri, 15 Sep 2017
WASHINGTON (CNS) -- The process of "journeying together" during the Catholic Church's synods of bishops examining contemporary challenges on marriage and family life offers a map for the church's outreach, Washington Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl said Sept. 12. This process reflects not only the pontiff's pastoral approach, but also offers a template for how priests and laypeople can accompany others to help them understand and live the faith, he said. Cardinal Wuerl made the remarks at Georgetown University in an address on "Pope Francis: Fresh Perspectives on Synodality" as part of the university's Dahlgren Chapel Sacred Lecture series. He explained that "synodality" refers to coming together or journeying together, which he said is how those gatherings of the world's bishops tackled issues facing married couples and families. The cardinal noted that Pope Francis emphasized the importance of dialogue as those discussions unfolded. "We can recall his advices to the bishops ... to speak with openness and clarity, to listen with humility and be open to the Holy Spirit." Cardinal Wuerl said that the pope's understanding of synodality, that journeying together, involved not only dialogue with bishops who teach and transmit the faith, but also drew upon insights from married couples and families in dioceses around the world. The proceedings formed the basis for Pope Francis' 2016 apostolic exhortation "Amoris Laetitia" ("The Joy of Love"). "We have to listen to people living the faith," the cardinal said, who added that journeying together toward the love and truth of Christ then involves all members of the Catholic Church -- clergy, religious and laity. The two synods on marriage and family, the cardinal added, were preceded by consultations of local churches throughout the world on the lived situation of families, their challenges and experiences. That approach, he said, resulted in "Amoris Laetitia" being a "consensus exhortation," with its elements drawn from the bishops' discussion and the worldwide consultation of Catholics receiving approval from a significant majority of the participating bishops. "I have been present in some capacity for 11 synods and as a bishop member for seven. The last two, the 2014 and 2015 gatherings, were, in my opinion, the most open, engaging and reflective of episcopal collaboration and consultation," Cardinal Wuerl said. That same approach, he said, has marked the preparation for the upcoming 2018 Synod on Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment. In the Archdiocese of Washington, a "Share With Francis" initiative preparing for that synod involved gathering feedback from 661 participants in listening sessions at parishes, in young adult groups and on college campuses, and nearly 1,000 online responses from young people. "Pope Francis understands the process of listening to the faithful and to his brother bishops to be a key part of his own teaching and pastoral ministry," the cardinal said. "It is a part of the 'synodality' or 'journeying together,' which he sees as essential to the very life of the church." He also noted that Pope Francis demonstrates that witnessing to the faith involves not just words, but actions. Cardinal Wuerl said "Amoris Laetitia" reaffirmed Catholic doctrine on marriage and family life and highlighted the teaching of recent popes on those subjects. The document also underscored the importance of discernment and helping people form consciences guided by church teaching, he said. The journey of faith, he said, also requires support and accompaniment from pastors and other members of the church, so those having difficulty understanding or following that teaching can be helped to accept and live the faith. That effort to go out, encounter and accompany others is at the heart of Pope Francis' call for today's Catholics to be evangelizing disciples, journeying with others to draw closer to Christ on the path to heaven, Cardinal Wuerl said. "Just as Jesus said to his ...